Epiphany Happens As We See And Stay With Jesus
The gospel writers lived at a time when reason did not live in a small room, locked and guarded by empirical philosophy—that strict science which depends only on what can be known through the five senses in order to write the laws which govern reality. Those writers also used their five senses, but their understanding was enlightened by a receptivity to the world of the Spirit, the kingdom of God. They saw with the eyes of the heart (Eph 1:18).
In order to help us see as they see, the disciple John stops our reading of the event as past history by using a deliberate pattern of verb tenses and words. By using the historical present here and there in the narrative, he snags our attention (after all, Jesus told him he would be catching people—Luke 5:1-11), and transports us into the story. We discover ourselves in the actual scene. (See "Explanation of General Format," New American Standard Bible, 1972).
John also uses five different words to express the word sight or to see. G. L. Phillips in his work "Faith and Vision in the Fourth Gospel," Studies in the Fourth Gospel, ed. F. L. Cross (London: A. R. Mowbray, 1957), pp. 83-96, points out that theasthai can be translated "to contemplate" which means "to look at some dramatic spectacle and in a measure to become a part of it."
This act of becoming a part of the story is at the heart of the Franciscan and Ignatian spiritual disciplines which invite us to read the narrative, and then to enter the story using our five senses to be present to all that is around us.
This month I invite you to read the lectionary text in John 1:35-39 a few times, then to simply enter the story. Notice who is there, and where you are in the scene. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the ground of the river bank beneath your feet. See Jesus as John points him out to you.
As you walk along with the two disciples and follow Jesus, Jesus turns and asks you, "What do you want?"
What is your response to Jesus?
Now you hear Jesus inviting you to come to the house where he is staying, and to spend the day. Simply be present.
An epiphany happens for Andrew (John 1:41). What epiphany happens for you?
Wendy J. Miller Eastern Mennonite Seminary Harrisonburg, VA